This article is intended to provide the already qualified Scuba diver with information which will help to plan dives in the waters of Canada, whether as a local resident or a visitor. Information is provided without prejudice, and is not guaranteed accurate or complete. Use it at your own risk.
Canada is not generally considered a diving destination for visitors from abroad, but there are many divers residing in Canada who travel to the Canadian dive sites.
Canada has 240,000 km of coastline and an estimated 2 million lakes, so its topography, climate, weather, water conditions and marine ecology vary widely.
The water is cold pretty well everywhere, so you will need equipment and training for cold water dives.
Diving destinations and sites
- British Columbia — Cold water diving among wrecks with large sea life.
- Porteau Cove Provincial Park is on the Howe Sound fjord, 38 km north of Vancouver. There are a series of artificial reefs including two sunken vessels.
- Vancouver Island features some interesting dives in the south, sometimes with large mammals, and some extraordinary invertebrate dives in the north, particularly in the Browning Pass/God's Pocket region. For the latter regions, departure is generally from Port Hardy.
- Churchill, Manitoba — Most tourists are not mentally fortified to jump into a cold river filled with whales, but it is certainly the most up-close way to see the Belugas. Scuba diving is permitted, but there are no guides to take you, so only experienced divers, and you must bring your own equipment to Churchill. You can fill your tanks at the hospital. For snorkelers, two boating tour companies (Sea North and Lazy Bear Lodge) will set you up with a guide and dry suit or wet suit. Sea North snorkeling in wet suits is available July–August. Lazy Bear Lodge's similar three hour snorkeling tour is done in dry suits.
- Thousand Islands — Offers a high density of dive sites, with many dive shops and dive charters in the area. American dive sites can frequently be accessed by Canadian charter vessels. Canadian charter vessels visiting wrecks in American waters need to pass through customs at Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay. The Thousand Islands generally reach 70°F (21°C) in August. Dive sites are available for divers of all skill levels, from shallow wrecks suitable for divers on their open water checkout dives, to deep technical wrecks in varying degrees of current. Frequently traveled wrecks in the area include:
- Dive shops and charter operators in the area include
- St. Lawrence River
- Sarnia — The St. Clair river in Sarnia provides relatively fast moving current and a reasonable depth. Because of the St. Clair river was a historic waterway, there are many artifacts and shipwrecks on the bottom of the river. Because of the fast current and hazards in the water, divers new to the area should find a diver with local knowledge to orient them to the site and dive with them. Sturgeon collect at the mouth of the river in the spring. The St. Clair river has 5 wrecks within reach of Canadian shores:
- Tobermory — Sometimes referred to as the scuba diving capital of Canada, Tobermory is adjacent to the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Diving in the area requires that each diver be registered. A diver can register themselves at the 4 Parks Canada Visitor Centre. The marine park has some local rules. Dive charters are available through the local dive shops 5 G+S Watersports, 8 Bay St., Tobermory, Ontario. and 6 Diver's Den, 3 Bay St, Tobermory, Ontario.
- 15 Alice G.
- 16 Tugs.
- 17 Sweepstakes. The shore immediately surrounding the Sweepstakes is privately owned. To visit the sweepstakes, a diver must travel to the wreck by boat. Grates have been added to the wreck to prevent penetration into the wreck.
- 18 City of Grand Rapids.
- 19 The Anchor.
- 20 The Lighthouse. A shore access site with a maximum depth of 75 ft. This site is adjacent to cottages on the western edge. When visiting this site, be sure to respect the privacy of the tenants and not trespass on private property.
- 21 Little Cove. Access via Little Cove Rd. The site is adjacent to cottages on the north western edge. When visiting this site, be sure to respect the privacy of the tenants and not trespass on private property. Very little parking is available in the parking lot of Little Cove Road. Carpooling is recommended, as is dropping equipment and moving your vehicle away from the site.
- 22 James C. King.
- 23 W. L. Wetmore.
- 24 Philo Scoville.
- 25 Newaygo.
- 26 Charles P. Minch.
- 27 Arabia.
- 28 City of Cleveland.
- 29 San Jacinto.
- 30 Marion L. Brek.
- 31 Forest City.
- Lake Huron
- 32 Wexford.
- Niagara River and Peninsula
- 33 Frenchman's Creek Barge. Purportedly a wreck from the war of 1812. In shallow water, all that remains of the wreck are the ribs. Parking is available on the East side of the Frenchman's Creek bridge. It is possible to enter the water from the shore at the parking lot.
- 34 Welland River. Multiple entries to the river exist. Due to the proximity of a Niagara Falls hydroelectric generating plant intake, it is not recommended to dive the creek if the water is flowing east. Entry to the river is possible at Kingsbridge Park, at the east Portage Road bridge abutment, and a public dock on the west side of the Portage Road bridge. Old bridge abutments are in the river at roughly Norton Street and Dock Street. A par of cars are just after the bridge abutments. Exiting at the Chippawa Public Boat Ramp is recommended. Because of the public boat ramp and a marina at the Lyons Creek fork, there is a lot of boat traffic during boating season. Divers should be mindful of boat traffic and plan where to surface to reduce the chance of being in the path of a boat.
- 35 Thompson's Hole. The deepest part of the upper Niagara river, and the highest current. Parking is available at the intersection of Queen St and Niagara Blvd. At entry, there is a sign indicating that swimming is not permitted in the area. However, it is unclear if the rule is enforced. Divers usually end their drift at the Fort Erie Underwater Rescue Unit or at the Courtwright Street Train Bridge. Multiple unidentified wrecks can be found on the drift.
- 36 Welland Scuba Park. Has purposefully placed items to entertain scuba divers.
- 911 is the telephone number in most places to access emergency services, including police and ambulance services where there is mobile telephone service. Remote locations will often not have service.
- Canadian Coast Guard. The CCG provides search and rescue services. Because of the vast extent of Canada's coastline and territorial waters, you may not be able to depend on a fast response.
Canadian Coast Guard phone numbers by region:
- West: Alberta ☏ , British Columbia ☏ or #727, Manitoba ☏ , Saskatchewan ☏
- Central: Ontario ☏ , Quebec ☏
- East: New Brunswick ☏ , Newfoundland and Labrador ☏ , Nova Scotia ☏ , Prince Edward Island ☏
- North: Northwest Territories ☏ , Nunavut ☏ , Yukon ☏ or #727
Buy and learn
- International Diving Centre, 2572 Arbutus Street, Vancouver BC, ☏ , toll-free: . Daily 10AM-5PM. Courses, shop, rentals, service.
- Ogden Point Dive Centre, 199 Dallas Road Victoria BC, ☏ . Courses.
- Underworld Scuba and Sport, 1819 Portage Ave, Winnipeg MB, ☏ . M W noon-8PM, Tu Th F noon-6PM, Sa 10:30AM – 4:30PM. Courses, shop, service.
- Toronto Scuba Centre, 101 Spadina Ave., Unit 1B, Toronto ON, ☏ . Tu-F 11AM-7PM, Sa noon-5PM. Courses and shop. The only fully contained training facility in downtown Toronto.
- Dan's Dive Shop, 329 Welland Ave., St. Catharines ON, ☏ , toll-free: . Courses and shop.
- Divers Den, 3 Bay Street, Tobermory ON, ☏ . Courses.
- Dive Brockville Adventure Centre, 12 Water Street East, Brockville ON, ☏ . Courses, shop, rentals, air refills.
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